I have OCD and he has ADHD

I have OCD tendencies (mostly about keeping the house clean and tidy) and my boyfriend has pretty severe ADHD.  We live together, and we fight constantly about how he forgets to clean up after himself, put things away in the proper place, clean his dishes, and other things that involve cleanliness or tidiness.  He's prescribed Adderoll for his ADHD, but he sometimes forgets to take it; either on or off his meds, he still is super forgetful and untidy.  It drives me crazy, but he doesn't see it as a big deal.  At first, I tried to show him how I liked things to be, and asked him to do it that way from now on.  He always says he will, but then keeps forgetting; every time I go into a room and see something like a dirty dish or dirty clothes on the floor, I get upset and start lecturing him about how he doesn't do what he says he'll do.  He gets mad, defensive, and annoyed, and we fight.  However, even after we make up and agree to be better with each other (he remembers to clean up for me and I don't raise my voice at him), he still forgets.  Because he keeps forgetting, I get frustrated and feel unheard, and so I raise my voice to him and get exasperated.  This gets us nowhere and only makes things worse.  The fighting has started to drive us apart, but I really want to make this work.  I need help to cope with our differences so we can save our relationship.  If we can't find a middle ground on this, it's very possible we'll end up breaking up.  Please help!!

I know this isn't funny to

I know this isn't funny to you, but this made me laugh..talk about two people at opposite ends...your OCD about cleanliness with someone with ADHD, who are very often messy people...ok don't want generalize the total ADHD population, but from the 3 ADHD males I live with they leave a trail of mess everywhere they go, they seem Incapable to keep or even leave a room that was clean, clean. It drives me nuts to constantly pick up after them, but they really don't seem to 'see' the mess, its invisible, and they also have this out of sight out of mind thing, so they all like their stuff where they can see it which means everywhere on every surface. The only way your situation will work is for you to loosen up the need for clean and tidy and things needing to be the way You like them, and for him to manage the ADHD better so you meet somewhere in the middle.   I Love to have a nice neat organized house, but I have settled for 'good enough' because trying to make it the way I want it does nothing but drive me insane because it does not happen.

This made me laugh too

This made me laugh to, not because it was funny but because it sounds just like what goes on in my home.  I guess hearing that I'm not alone makes me feel better.  :)  My husband is the same way and although I don't consider myself full blown OCD I definitely like things tidier and more organized than he does.  I feel like his maid!  But I can't just let him make a mess and not pick it up.  If i wait for him to do it then often times it never gets done.  I feel like I've loosened up on what is acceptable but I still have issues with this.  UGH!

I wrote a novel- bear with me!

This sounds like me and my husband!  My husband has Aspergers Syndrome, so he is very detail oriented, tidy, hates clutter, and has to have things a specific way.  I'm a stay at home mom with ADHD, and if there is a pink panda in the middle of the living room, I probably would not notice it.  I used to be a horrible, horrible mess and leave gum wrappers on the floor and never vacuum or clean, etc... I didn't even know how to use the vacuum when my husband and I started dating.  But it was less of an issue then because we had the rosy glasses of love on and he didn't make a big deal of it.  

Well, 7 years later, we fight about all the stuff you and your boyfriend fight about (now, it didn't take 7 years to start fighting!  Basically things changed when I got pregnant and had to quit my job.).  He doesn't see why I can't do things the same way every time, or use his "more efficient" way of doing things, and I feel stifled because I feel micromanaged and like he is picking on me for every little mistake I make.  BUT, I've made a whole hell of a lot of progress.  I have a chore chart and mostly do everything on it, and I've gotten 90% better at picking up after myself, because I have a daughter with autism and she will eat anything left out, so for her safety I'm on high alert!  But even then it stresses me out, because I miss stuff all the time.  I mean to be thorough, but I'm not.  (I have to note that my husband's criticism did NOTHING to motivate me to change- I changed because I became a mom so my life wasn't about me anymore.)

The first thing I can tell you from the ADHD perspective is that we are inconsistent!  The stupid thing is that, the harder I try, the more I miss.  Because when I try to concentrate, I get stuck on something and it FEELS like I have a lot of focus, but then everything else escapes my notice but that one little thing I'm fixating on. With my husband, he needs to learn that I'm human and make mistakes, and that I'm not going to get everything done 100% of the time, and he can't expect me to do things his way.  If I have to do things his way, I get frustrated and in tears by the end of it, if I don't rage quit 30 seconds in, because our brains are just so different that I'm incapable of doing things his way even if it IS the best way.  The hard truth when it comes to living with another person is that you have to compromise.  You can't control where things go or how things are done.  Things aren't going to get done the same way every time, or even get done every time.  That's life, though, not just ADHD life, but most people's lives.

But on your boyfriend's end, he needs to step up and take responsibility for a few things, and then have a system in place so that he does his job at least 75% of the time.  For example, having a chore chart.  When I'm wandering the house thinking, "hmmm what am I supposed to be doing?" I can go look at the chore chart.  I also have google calendar up on my computer the whole day and that has pop-ups and alarms when things have to be done at a certain time.  Even simple things like making lunch, because if I don't have a reminder, I won't think about making lunch until I'm starving and wondering why the kids are so crabby all of a sudden?  I have a good 3 egg timers, and I usually know where at least one of them is at any given time, so I use that if I need to be snapped out of my focus zone in a certain amount of time.  But I'm never going to be able to live a regimented life.  I'm never going to be any good at finding things (this is a sore spot for me, because I can't figure out a way to make up for my lack of ability to notice things even when I look straight at it.)  :(  But I can get a lot done, because I'm willing to make up for my lack of organization with technology or habits.  Like having the most important things in the same spot all the time... which it took me years of training to be able to do.  :P  

The way I describe having ADHD is like... normal people have thoughts that they put on a shelf in their brains.  And then when they want to think about something they scan the shelves and pick the thought that they want to think about.  But I don't have any shelves, and my thoughts don't sit still.  They fly around like snitches (Harry Potter reference... golden balls with wings that dart around at random and try not to get caught) and whenever I want to think of something, I have to start catching thoughts and thinking about whatever random one I catch until I find the one I'm supposed to remember.  So it takes a ton of energy and time to just focus enough to race after all my thoughts and remember whatever it was I'm supposed to remember.  The medication doesn't help me categorize my thoughts like normal people, but it gives me a lot more energy to fly around and try to find what I was looking for.

Let me tell you that lectures and criticism help NOTHING.  If your boyfriend COULD change, then he probably WOULD.  But if he CAN'T change, what is lecturing him going to accomplish?  It is just going to make him feel bad and either make him feel hopeless and like he's a failure, or make him angry because you expect him to be a person he can never be.  You both can promise change until the cows come home but if you don't have a PLAN, change is never going to happen.  And you can't expect him to become like you or do things your way- neurological differences are not so easily thwarted.  What you can do is try to manage your own needs and abilities.  

My oldest daughter has OCD tendencies (we are an interesting family) and some thing that really helps her is to have her own space where she controls where things go and how they are organized.  Her room is hers to control.  Maybe if you had a couple of areas like that (closets are good- I avoid closets because it's overstimulation to look at so many things at once) where you kept a spare of some important stuff, and your boyfriend stays out of it, then maybe you'll feel better prepared to handle the chaos that looms outside of your tidy places?  And if he has designated times where he goes and picks up his crap, it's a lot easier to maintain a house and maintain the illusion that you are picking up after yourself.  :P  Because in order for me to pick up after myself, I have to be on high alert all the time, in order to maintain the focus it takes to notice the mess I'm making, in addition to whatever else I'm concentrating on.  Which is exhausting and ultimately impossible.  But if I stop for breaks during the day, I can go back to my usual spots and clean up my dirty dishes or finish the load of laundry I left sitting there.  Maybe you can sit down with him and designate which tasks you trust him to do and have him choose an external reminder method THAT IS NOT YOU to help him remember what to do.  And then you have to TRUST him to get his stuff accomplished, and if he does not get it accomplished, let him take the fall for what happened.  You are not his mom- it's not your job to yell at him to motivate him.  He has to find his own motivation by learning what happens when he doesn't follow through.  For example, giving him the task of paying bills is not a good idea, because the consequences of lateness and inattention are too severe and it affects both of you.  Maybe start with having him do his own laundry- keep your laundry separate if need be, and that way if he forgets to do it, it affects him but not you.  Or have him do dishes because we find out really quickly that it's much easier to scrub old food when it's been soaking in the sink for an hour as opposed to sitting at the computer desk welding itself to the plate.

Sorry this is such a novel.  :P  I almost forgot to mention therapy.  Therapy is wonderful!  Get therapy, both individual and couples, I highly recommend it.


Aww man, I'm not married but this is exactly what my ocd step mom and I deal with every freaking day! Im the one with ADHD so what can I do? Its so stressful every single day and I dont know what to do, and I feel like I'm only able to add to the problems. Its all the time, she needs certain things done and wants them done a certain way. Every thing I say comes out as an excuse or a bad idea. Clean your room, clean your bathroom, this and that are on the floor, redo the kitchen, you left the doors unlocked, aww man its an every single day thing and I'm scared to confront her so I try to bury myself in my room and in whatever I like to do and it just makes it worse. I want to do the right thing without being looked at as a selfish, lazy person only worrying about his video games and phone. With those of you with OCD, please help a guy out?